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A DOOR IN THE DARK

From the Waxways series , Vol. 1

Truly fantastic.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2023


  • New York Times Bestseller

This dark fantasy duology opener has a magic school, a death, and five students who find themselves stranded in the wilderness.

Ren Monroe is a promising student wizard at Balmerick, a private school in the city of Kathor. Along with her best friend, Timmons, Ren is one of the few welfare students attending on a scholarship, and despite being one of the most accomplished people at the school, finding a placement in one of the top houses is proving difficult and is a hurdle in the way of the secret mission Ren has set out to accomplish. When a portal spell goes awry and Ren, Timmons, and four other students from different walks of life are thrown together into the Dires, an uncharted land where the last dragons lived, one of them ends up dead and the rest need to learn to work together to make their way back home before they succumb to the harsh environment or the terrifying revenant following them. This may well be the chance Ren was looking for to prove her worth. Placing elements of a locked-room mystery and an original magic system within the familiar trappings of a school for magic, this is a no-holds-barred tale of revenge, atonement, and the pursuit of justice set in a world diverse in skin color and social classes. Ren is a protagonist for the ages: equal parts smart, calculating, and ruthless, forming a lethal package as an avenging angel.

Truly fantastic. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66591-868-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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